Using the Video Scopes and Color-Correction Tools


Using the Video Scopes and Color -Correction Tools

It takes a collection of controls and measuring tools to accurately measure and work with a shot's color correction. Final Cut Pro 4 gives you a set of very sophisticated tools to do the job.

These tools let you assess and control the brightness and color levels of your clips in preparation for output to tape. These tools include the Tool Bench window with the Video Scopes tab, new range-checking options in the Viewer and Canvas, and all-new color-correction filters.


The color range displayed on a video monitor is much narrower than what can be displayed on a computer. Colors that appear vivid and clean on NTSC or PAL video can look dull when viewed on your computer's display. Resist the temptation to overcorrect for this. Perform color correction while viewing your output on an NTSC or PAL monitor only. Otherwise, you won't really know how the corrections you're making will look on your finished tape. You might accidentally oversaturate your image, causing bleeding into other areas of the frame and a color range that is too "hot" for broadcast. The range-checking tools are great for this, but never assume that what you see on your computer's display is how it will look in the end on TV or on a video monitor.

You can use these tools to balance the shots in a scene to match, keep your video broadcast legal, correct for errors made during the production process, and achieve a new look for your program. You can even create special effects with them, such as a day-for-night look, or give a scene a warmer or colder feel just by manipulating filters.

Using the Tool Bench Window, Frame Viewer, and Video Scopes

You open the Tool Bench window by selecting Tools, Video Scopes or by pressing Opt+9. My favorite way to open it is by selecting Window, Arrange, Color Correction, because this automatically resizes the windows so that you can see the Viewer, Canvas, and Tool Bench windows , including the new Frame Viewer. They are all neatly arranged across the top of your computer's display. See Figures 11.15, 11.16, and 11.17.

Figure 11.15. Color Correction Arrangement.


Figure 11.16. The Tool Bench window with the Frame Viewer tab selected.


Figure 11.17. The Tool Bench window with the Video Scopes tab selected.


There are four different but related scopes here. Learning to read them will give you a leg up in setting proper levels for your video clips. Before you can effectively read them, you must understand what they show you. They all measure your image's luminance and chrominance. Luminance (also called luma ) describes the image's relative brightness. Chrominance (also called chroma ) describes the amount or saturation of the image's color and that color's hue. The absence of color is either black, white, or a shade of gray.

New to FCP 4, the Frame Viewer allows you to view two different video clips side by side to match color correction, and more. You can set the pop-up menus near the bottom of this video Viewer to show you the current frame, as well as frames of video on either side of the edit. This very useful tool expedites color correction, filter adjustments, and more.

Another great way to set yourself up to color-correct is to select Window, Arrange, Multiple Edit. To see this arrangement, your computer display must support higher resolutions . You can't see this arrangement on 12- and 15-inch PowerBooks. As shown in Figure 11.18, the multiple edit arrangement allows you to have two Frame Viewers, a Viewer, Canvas, and Video Scopes at the ready. Selecting what you want to view side by side in the Frame Viewer from the pop-up menus near the bottom determines the frames you see for comparison. For example, you might select a frame from a clip on either side up to two edits back or forward from your current position in the sequence to match color from one shot to another.

Figure 11.18. The multiple edit window arrangement.


Measuring Luma (Luminance) Levels

Final Cut Pro measures luma as a digital percentage from 0 to 100, where 100 is absolute white and 0 is absolute black. FCP also lets you see superwhite levels. Analog video is measured in increments called IRE levels. On the IRE scale, NTSC video black is measured at 7.5 IRE (except in Japan and territories that are away from the U.S., where it's measured at 0 IRE). The broadcast standard of the brightest (broadcast-legal) white is measured at 100 IRE. In PAL, legal black is measured at 0 IRE, and legal white is measured at 100 IRE. If you are in the U.S., black is measured at 7.5 IRE, but in many places that use NTSC it's measured at 0, so it is best to find out what your area uses by contacting a local broadcaster .

Final Cut Pro lets you see brighter images than what is considered legal if your images contain these superwhite levels. Superwhite levels are luminance levels greater than 100 IRE as measured by the Waveform Monitor. Many cameras ( especially DV cameras) record these levels. They range from 101 IRE to 109 IRE and are not considered broadcast-legal in any broadcast video system. However, many broadcasters allow levels higher than 100. Notably, though, PBS stations in the U.S. do not allow levels greater than 100 IRE.

Technically, FCP's Waveform Monitor measures a percentage of luma, not IRE levels exactly, but for all intents and purposes, thinking of these measurements as IRE levels is fine. If you are worried about these levels, simply add a Broadcast Safe filter, found on the Color Correction submenu of the Video Effects menu, and you will definitely be legal everywhere.

Measuring Chroma Levels

Chroma levels describe hue and saturation. Hue describes the color itselfwhether it's blue or red, for example. It's measured as an angle on a color wheel. In the case of color bars, red is at 13 degrees, yellow is at 77 degrees, green is at 151 degrees, cyan is at 167 degrees, and blue is at 103 degrees.

Saturation describes the intensity or amount of color, whether it's vivid and intense blue or pale blue, for example. Saturation is measured on a color wheel as well, but as the distance from the center of the wheel. If color intensity is measured at the center, it has no color. As it approaches the wheel's outer rim, it becomes more intensely saturated .

So how do you first detect problems with these levels? The Range Check tools are where to begin.

Using the Range-Checking Options in the Viewer and Canvas

You activate the Range Check tools by selecting View, Range Check, as shown in Figure 11.19. You can select to monitor luma or chroma or both from this menu. When they are active, and if you have an area of luma or excess chroma, zebra stripes appear as an overlay on the picture.

Figure 11.19. Activating the range-checking tools.


Figure 11.20 shows that there is too much luma in the shot. (There's not really too much in the shot supplied with this book; the levels have been raised for this example.) The zebra stripes over the sky area of the shot are red, and they are accompanied by a triangle with an exclamation point. This lets you know that something is amiss. The red stripes indicate that luma levels are over 100% as measured by Final Cut Pro. You see green stripes if the levels are between 90% and 100%. In either case, they are broadcast-legal, and you shouldn't need to correct them. When the range-checking is on and a clip is measured to be broadcast-legal, you don't see zebra stripes, and the triangle with an exclamation point is replaced with a green dot and a check mark, as shown in Figure 11.21.

Figure 11.20. Zebra stripes indicating a broadcast-illegal level of luma with the Range Check tool.


Figure 11.21. A green dot with a check mark indicates legal luma and chroma levels.


If the chroma levels (the amount of color saturation) are too high, the Range Check tool places red zebra stripes in the areas where it is illegal. Bringing these under the legal limit is as easy as lowering the saturation slider in a color-correction filter. Depending on the setting of the Range Check control, if Range Check luma is on, you get only luma checking. If Range Check chroma is on, you get only chroma checking. If both are on, you have to have both luma and chroma in range to get green stripes or no stripes. The green striping is a warning that you are approaching the limit, not an indication that you have exceeded it.


These excess chroma and luma indicators are great to keep on when you are correcting clips whose levels are legal. You might want to push up the levels to create a more pleasing picture, for example. If the indicators come on, you've gone too far with raising luma or chroma. Be aware that you might have a problem with having the indicators on when exporting QuickTime movies. They seem to make QuickTime movies come out all white in some versions of Final Cut Pro! So turn them off when you aren't checking or changing levels or you want to export a QuickTime movie. If you add a Broadcast Safe filter to a clip whose luma and/or chroma levels are illegal, Final Cut Pro instantly corrects them to the proper levels.

Using the Video Scopes

You have another precise way to check your levelsthe four Video Scope readings .

Final Cut Pro supplies four different Video Scopesthe Waveform Monitor, Vectorscope, RGB Parade Scope, and Histogram. The first three work pretty much the same as those used in an online edit suite. The Histogram is a bit different; it measures the distribution of luma in your clips.

By comparing one clip's luma and chroma values to another with scopes, you can clearly spot all the hues, saturation, and luminance levels that might distinguish one clip from another. This lets you make more informed decisions about adjusting Final Cut Pro's color-correction filters to more closely match the levels from one clip to the next . Using the scopes also keeps you from just relying on what your computer display looks like. These scopes accurately measure levels and help you keep things matching, better looking, and broadcast-legal.

When you are paused on a clip, that current frame is the one being monitored by the scopes. You can select different displays of the various scopes by selecting an individual scope or a set of scopes you want to view from the Layout pop-up menu. If you choose one of the eight different combinations, you can monitor as many as all four of the scopes, a smaller combination of them, or just one of them at a time.

A View pop-up menu appears next to the Layout menu. Here you can select various frames for the scopes to get different readings. If you select Current, the Canvas and Timeline's playhead position is read. If you select Viewer, the scopes read the playhead position's frame in the Viewer. New to FCP 4, you also have a quick way to view previous frames, later frames, or frames with or without any effects added to them (much like you can with the Frame Viewer).

You should be very careful viewing scopes before effects are added (which could make your levels illegal), because they can lead you to make false decisions about legal level or color. Constantly monitoring these levels when you are adding filters to your clips is best.

The different display options in each of the scopes have pop-up menus. You activate the menu by Ctrl-clicking the scope.

Understanding the Waveform Monitor

The Waveform Monitor displays a clip's levels of brightness and saturation. They are displayed from left to right, mirroring the frame of video you are currently monitoring. You must Ctrl-click the display itself to see the saturation levels or to defeat them. You compare the relative saturation levels by looking at the waveform's thickness , as shown in Figure 11.22. The left side reflects the darker areas of Cap and Sam, and the right side reflects the brightness of the snow. Also note the pop-up menu, which you activate by Ctrl-clicking the monitor. A yellow line follows your cursor movement on the scope. Notice that it shows an absolute value of its position in the green box in the upper-right area of the display, just above the scope itself.

Figure 11.22. Viewing a clip's waveform. Ctrl-click to open the context menu, which can be seen anywhere within the monitor.


It's easy to change these levels and watch the results as they are displayed by choosing a color-correction filter and adjusting the levels with it. The color-correction filters are discussed later, in the section "Using the Color-Correction Filters."

Understanding the Vectorscope

The Vectorscope displays the distribution of color and its value in the monitored frame. The angle of this display around the circular scale represents the hue values. Small boxes mark the points of red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta . These are the same colors used in the color bars generated from the Generator pop-up menu. Color targets match the color bars. Correctly adjusted bars (and therefore source) fall on the targets. Saturation errors move the bars inside or outside the targets, and phase errors move them around. If you measure the color bars generated by Final Cut Pro with this scope, you'll see that the targets hit exactly in the Vectorscope. The outer rings of the scale represent maximum saturation, and the center point represents zero saturation. After you've identified the intensity and hue of a color in one clip, you can quickly see where another (which should be a matching clip) varies from the first one. The color targets of the Vectorscope scale match the controls of the Color Balance of Final Cut Pro's color-correction filters. After you've determined that you need to make a change in hue, to match another shot, for example, you can move the balance control indicators to properly match the two shots.

Figure 11.23 shows a Vectorscope reading color bars. Note that the intense colors of the color bars are the vectors that the Vectorscope is reading. The color vectors red, blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta fall within the various boxes assigned to them on the scope. Figure 11.24 shows a superimposition of color bars over Final Cut Pro's color-correction tools' Color Balance wheels. It shows a relationship between the balance wheel and the Vectorscope's readings. Not only are red, blue, magenta, yellow, and cyan on this balance wheel, but they also fall in the same areas in which a Vectorscope represents them. Whatever color is being worked with on the color wheel is reflected in the Vectorscope in hue and intensity.

Figure 11.23. The Vectorscope reading color bars.


Figure 11.24. The color bars superimposed over the Color Balance wheels.


A helpful target line in the Vectorscope indicates the average flesh tones of every race. If your subjects' flesh tones are off, chances are you can correct them by lining them up to this indicator, as shown in Figure 11.25. Here you see the close-up of Cap. His flesh tones are tipped a bit to the right, toward red. In this case, you wouldn't change this, because his face should be a bit red from the cold. If you look at the shot, you'll see that it is red, but appropriately so. In contrast, Figure 11.26 shows Sam at the campfire. Notice how his flesh tones are right on the line. All races' flesh tones fall very near this target line.

Figure 11.25. Cap's red flesh tones as displayed on the Vectorscope. Note the target line just to the left of Cap's color indication.


Figure 11.26. Sam's close-up and flesh tone measurement in the Vectorscope.


Note that the intensity of the color is higher in Sam's shot. This is because there is more saturation of color in Sam's shot than in Cap's shot. You might want all your movie's color to match, so a color correction might be in order. But keep this in mind: In real life, you don't see the same amount of color all the time. The amount of color you see depends on lighting conditions, so it might also be appropriate to not change the intensity of color saturation to be the same from shot to shot in your entire movie. One thing is certain, though: Sam sure looks warmer in his shot than Cap does in his. And this makes perfect sense. Sam, after all, is next to a fire.

Saturation and luminance may vary from person to person, but unless they are little green men from Mars, the scope will indicate their relative hue, because all human flesh tones fall loosely around this indicator.

Because most shots are relatively low in saturation, the Vectorscope has a magnify mode to make the displayed area clearer. To activate this mode, Ctrl-click the Vectorscope and select Magnify from the context menu that appears.

You should analyze each edit decision you make (including color) to ensure that it adds to your story at that moment. If it does add an appropriate nuance, it might be a good decision to do it. If it in any way detracts from the moment, it should be avoided.

Understanding the RGB Parade

The RGB Parade, shown in Figure 11.27, is a modified version of the Waveform Monitor. It works the same way, but it separates the red, green, and blue luminance values. It's great for comparing the relative color values that might differ between two clips you are trying to match. This can happen if two cameras were used to shoot a scene, and they don't match exactly in hue and luma values. Figure 11.27 has more red color than green or blue, and you can see this reflected in the RGB Parade's measurements. The levels of red luminance are around 87% in this frame, as indicated in the upper-left corner. You also can see this by placing the Selection tool near the dots at the height of the reds. The yellow line appears when you put the cursor over the scope.

Figure 11.27. The RGB Parade Scope and Sam's shot.


This tool might be very useful if you have an error in chroma level, indicated by the triangle with the exclamation point. Or you might just want to lower the red saturation, such as if this is the only offending level.

Understanding the Histogram

The Histogram is a bar graph that shows you the relative strength of all the luma values in the selected frame. Each pixel is measured on a scale of 1 to 110. Each bar that is shown in the display represents the number of pixels at each step of the scale. For each pixel brightness level as a percentage of the total, the number of pixels in the image at that brightness level is plotted up the graph.

This graph can be used to quickly compare the luma values of two clips you need to match. If you compare them to each other with this graph, you can quickly see where changes need to be made to bring them into the same levels of luminance.

Take a look at Figure 11.28. It is a black-and-white image whose contrast is spread completely throughout the image, but there is a spike in the number of pixels that peaks around 65. They are the light gray areas between the black centers of the soft squares. Notice too that this image is broadcast-legal, because it has no pixels over 100 and thus is considered superwhite.

Figure 11.28. The Histogram.


This tool also is great for checking out an image's contrast. If the distribution of the pixels is high in one area, this represents a lower-contrast image. If they are more evenly distributed, a high-contrast image is being observed . You might want to keep the pixels the way they are, but if contrasts are too low, you might want to correct them to create a better-looking or more-detailed image. Again, you use the color-correction filters to do this. The scopes monitor the image's levels and ensure that you are correcting properly. They also are guides to help you get there quickly. All the scopes update as you change any setting.

In a well-exposed image, you can always expect to see a bell curve of values in the Histogram. Some images have the bell curve low, some have it high, and some spread it wide, but all well-exposed images should show a bell curve.

Using the Color-Correction Filters

Final Cut Pro includes a suite of color-correction tools. They are incredibly powerful. There are six in all:

  • Broadcast Safe This filter quickly brings clips into a broadcast-safe range in luma and chroma levels. It's a quick and easy fix. Simply apply it to a clip, and it's set to go.

  • Color Corrector A basic and intuitive color corrector.

  • Color Corrector 3-way This is similar to the Color Corrector, but it offers more-precise control and supplies separate tools for the correction of color in a clip's low range, mid range, and whites. The Color Corrector 3-way is one of two real-time effects supplied by Final Cut Pro. However, on slower computers, massive adjustments made with the Color Corrector 3-way might not play back in real time.

  • Desaturate Highlights The application of a color correction can at times result in unwanted color in the image's highlights. This filter lets you eliminate those colors. If you select Unlimited RT from the pop-up menu in the Timeline window, this filter's effects play in real time.

  • Desaturate Lows The application of a color correction can at times result in unwanted color in the image's lower luminance areas. This filter lets you eliminate those colors. If you select Unlimited RT from the pop-up menu in the Timeline window, this filter's effects play in real time.


    When you select Unlimited RT from the Timeline's RT pop-up menu (located in the upper left of the Timeline window), keep in mind that even though you might drop frames, it's incredibly useful to view your playback without having to render these effects beforehand. However, you will probably want to render these effects after you are satisfied with the settings you've chosen .

  • RGB Balance This allows you to control your image's reds, greens, and blues independently. It breaks down each of these areas of color into controls for manipulation of your image's highlights, midtones, and blacks. If you select Unlimited RT from the pop-up menu in the Timeline window, this filter's effects play in real time.

To add a color-correction filter to a clip in the sequence, double-click the desired clip, and select Effects, Video Filters, Color Correction. You can add a filter to the Viewer or directly to a sequence clip from the submenu there. Alternatively, you can drag a filter from the Color Correction bin in the Filters tab in the Browser to the Viewer or directly to a clip in the Timeline window. You can also highlight a clip or series of clips in the Timeline window and double-click a filter from the Filters tab in the Browser to add it to the clips in the sequence. After they are applied, you control these filters from the Filters tab of the clip that should now be in the Viewer or by clicking the keyframe graphs button (in the lower-left corner of the Timeline window) or by pressing Opt+T. Ctrl-clicking in the keyframe area underneath the clips allows you to select an individual control and modify the filter.

Similar to all other filters, you can click the disclosure triangle next to a filter's name in the Viewer's Filters tab and open the numeric set of controls. Unlike other filters (except for the Chroma Keyer), the Color Corrector 3-way and the Color Corrector have a set of visual controls that you activate by clicking the Visual button next to a filter's name in the Viewer's Filters tab or by clicking the tab that appears after a filter is added to the clip in the top of the Viewer.

In short, you can control the Color Corrector and Color Corrector 3-way from the Viewer's numeric display in the Filters tab, from the visual display from the tab with the filter names on it, or from the keyframe area of the Timeline. Any changes you make in any of these areas are reflected in all the areas. The other color-correction tools can be controlled in the Viewer's Effects tab or from the Timeline's keyframe area.

I recommend that when you're learning to use these filters, you start by working with the visual display. After you've mastered it, using the numeric controls and adjusting parameters in the keyframe area will be easier. It's also easier to use the numeric and keyframe area controls for more precise control. If you have a lot of screen space, you'll find that enlarging the visual display increases your control of them, just as it does when you work with edit points in the Timeline window. Keep in mind that professional colorists make a living using only tools similar to these, and it takes a while to learn all their ins and outs.

All these filters affect chroma and luma in your video, but probably most of the time you'll use the Color Corrector and the Color Corrector 3-way for everyday color-correction jobs. Experimenting with filters not discussed in this book will teach you much. The following is a discussion of these two most important tools.

Common Controls Between the Color Corrector Filter and the Color Corrector 3-Way Filter

Both these filters use similar controls that would be familiar to a professional colorist in an online bay or Telecine suite. The controls for each of these fabulous tools are similar. The intuitive visual controls are discussed first. Be aware that their numeric counterparts adjust the same parameters. A couple of extra controls are found only in the numeric controls.

Take a look at Figure 11.29. These controls are identical in both filters. There is a button in both the numeric and visual controls to change the view in the Viewer window to toggle between the two sets of controls. In the visual control it's in the upper left, as shown in Figure 11.29.

Figure 11.29. Top area controls of both the Color Corrector and the Color Corrector 3-way.


The controls in the visual displays of both filters are as follows:

  • Keyframe controls A set of three controls that allow you to set keyframes that control all the filter's parameters at once. If you want to control them individually, you must access the numeric controls and set individual keyframes for each parameter. You might want a more-precise change of color over time using these instead.

  • Enable Filter check box Enables or disables the filter. Great for checking the before and after display of your adjustments. Pressing Ctrl+1 toggles this condition.

  • Copy Filter controls This section of the controls has five buttons . They are as follows from the left:

    Copy from 2nd Clip Back copies the Color Corrector settings used on the clip that is two clips before the current one. You'd use this when correcting a cut between two actors, for example, where one needs this particular correction and you are cutting between two close-ups of the two actors every other cut.

    Copy from 1st Clip Back copies the Color Corrector settings from the immediately preceding clip. This could be used to correct two clips that must have the same correction applied to them.

    Drag Filter allows you to copy this color correction to any clip in the sequence by simply dragging this icon to another clip in your sequence. You also can drag this setting to your Favorites folder or anywhere in the Browser to store it for later use.

    Copy to 1st Clip Forward copies the color correction to the following clip.

    Copy to 2nd Clip Forward copies the color correction to the second clip forward. Say you have the same shot edited with an insert of a close-up or cut-away shot between the beginning and the end of this first shot. This button could quickly make both sides of this shot match.

  • Current timecode display Works the same as the one in the Viewer.

  • Keyframe graph Works the same as the others, but controls all parameters at once.

  • Zoom controls and zoom slider Works the same as the ones that are in the controls of the video filters.

  • Color Balance control The Color Balance control is shown in Figure 11.30. It's common to both filters. It's a color wheel that allows you to change the mix of red, green, and blue that falls within three different ranges of luma in the Color Corrector 3-way tool and in the Color Corrector; it affects all ranges of luma. The wheel's angle of distribution corresponds to the same angle of degrees that a set of color bars uses in the Vectorscope.

    Figure 11.30. The Color Balance control.


    Dragging the white center button toward the outer areas changes the balance of your clip's color toward the color you are dragging toward. Holding down the Shift key while dragging keeps the button moving in the same direction of color. Holding down the Command key while dragging allows it to gear up and move faster. Holding down both the Command and Shift keys allows it to move faster and maintain the same direction. The eyedropper in the lower left allows you to quickly white-balance a shot by selecting it and then picking something in the shot that is supposed to be white. The circular button in the lower right resets this control.

  • Limit Effect tools Again, both filters have these controls, shown in Figure 11.31. These controls let you select specific values of hue, saturation, and luma and apply color correction to only the areas of the picture you've selected for change. For example, suppose you have a scene with a person wearing a red coat. Then you decide you want to change the color of that red coat to blue. Assuming that nothing else in the picture has the same values of red, you can use the Limit Effect controls to selectively make this change. If another color is the same, you might be able to block it out by using a Garbage Matte, much like the identity blur mentioned earlier in the discussion of the Eight-Point Garbage Matte. There is a check box next to each of the three major controls to activate them, as well as a reset button to put them back to their default settings. A common use of this filter is to reduce reds only, which typically can become oversaturated in video. Limiting the changes to the red areas keeps saturation levels on the other areas of color in your image.

    Figure 11.31. Limit Effect controls.


  • Color Range control Selects the color range you want to limit the effect to:

    Top handles select the color's range. They correspond to the numeric display's Chroma Width.

    Bottom handles select the tolerances of the keying range. They correspond to the Chroma softness in the numeric display.

    Color Gradient lets you click between the two sets of handles and drag left or right to change the hue of the limiting color.

    Saturation (Sat) control works the same as the Color Range controls but affects only the saturation of the selected limiting color.

    Luma control works the same as the Saturation control but affects only the luma range selected.

    Eyedropper lets you select the color within the clip by activating it and clicking the color in the Canvas you want to limit the effect to. Zooming in on the Viewer or Canvas might help you get a more accurate selection. Just press Z and continually click with the Zoom tool on the area you want to zoom into. After it is selected, press Shift+Z to set the Canvas or Viewer to Fit to Window.

    Key button allows you to change the view from full-color to reveal just a black-and-white view of what you are limiting the ranges to. (It shows you the alpha channel or key you are creating by using the Limit Effect set of tools.) The areas of black on this view are unaffected by the change, and the areas of white are affected. This is very useful for fine-tuning the limit's keyed or affected area. It also toggles to a state of showing you the video without the filter's effect applied to it so that you can see a before-and-after effect.

    Invert button inverts the limiting effect to affect everything but the color and range selected by the Limit Effect controls. For example, if you set up a color to be limited and you change it to black-and-white, clicking this button turns everything else in the picture to black-and-white and leaves the selected color unchanged, much like the red coat on the child in Schindler's List . How about turning everything in a shot of roses to black-and-white except the roses themselves ?

    Hue Matching controls are new to FCP 4. This color-matching tool allows you to pick a color in one shot and match it to another color in a different shot. You can match the color of flesh tones from one shot to another shot of the same character, for example, when the lighting might have changed between the two shots. This filter changes the color balance of the entire shot so that it matches another. This works best as a starting point when you're correcting between two shots. You'll most likely use the other controls in the Color Corrector or Color Corrector 3-way to make fine adjustments. However, the Hue Matching controls can be controlled by using the Limit Effect controls.

    Auto Black Level button sets the clip's black areas to 0 in the Histogram.

    Auto White Level button sets the white levels to a maximum of 100 in the Histogram.

    Auto Contrast button does the same as the Auto Black Level and Auto White Level buttons combined with one click.

The Auto Contrast set of three buttons resides along the right side of the Color Corrector and in the central area of the Color Corrector 3-way filter, as shown in Figures 11.32 and 11.33. The single white arrow is the Auto White Level, the single black arrow is the Auto Black Level, and the dual-arrows button is the Auto Contrast button. Using these controls first in your color-correction process maximizes the contrast in your pictures, but keep in mind that they assume that you have proper exposure levels to begin with. You can try this as a starting point. If it's too much of a change, you'll see it immediately and can always perform an Undo to start over.

Figure 11.32. Auto Contrast buttons in the Color Corrector filter.


Figure 11.33. Auto Contrast buttons in the Color Corrector 3-way filter.


To reset the controls in either filter, activate the numeric display and click the red reset button next to the filter's name. All changes are reset to their default settings, and you delete any keyframes you might have created.

Other Controls in the Color Corrector Filter

Figure 11.34 shows the Color Corrector's remaining controls. They are as follows:

  • Hue Rotating the triangle here changes the video's overall hue.

  • Hue Reset button Resets the hue to its default setting.

  • Whites slider Drag the slider to adjust the maximum white levels between 25% and 100%. Clicking the arrows at either end moves the slider up or down in small increments.

  • Mids slider Dragging this slider redistributes the video's midtones (between 25% and 75%). Using this slider might bring out details in shadowy areas, leaving the brightest and darkest areas untouched. Clicking the arrows at either end moves the slider up or down in small increments.

  • Blacks slider Dragging this slider adjusts the minimum levels of the video's black areas (between 0% and 75%). Clicking the arrows at either end moves the slider up or down in small increments.

  • Sat slider Raises or lowers color saturation.

Figure 11.34. Controls in the Color Corrector filter.


You need to understand the differences between the Whites, Mids, and Blacks in Final Cut Pro's color filters. They overlap each other in each area of luminance they affect. The Blacks balance controls and sliders affect from 0% to about 75% of the luminance scale, the Mids balance controls and sliders affect the middle 75% of the luma scale, and the Whites controls affect the top 75% of the scale. Keep in mind that they overlap each other. This is true of the sliders in the Color Corrector and the balance and slider controls in the Color Corrector 3-way filters.


To match the color of two clips, you must first match their luma levels using the Whites, Mids, and Blacks sliders. Only then can you match their hue and saturation levels properly.

Other Controls in the Color Corrector 3-way Filter

The primary difference between the Color Corrector and the Color Corrector 3-way filters is that the 3-way version has separate color balance controls for the Blacks, Mids, and Whites, as shown in Figure 11.35. The Color Corrector 3-way's remaining controls are described in the following list.

  • Blacks balance control Changes the balance of color in the blacks of your clip.


    When color-correcting a clip, the Blacks Auto-Balance Color eyedropper is usually the second step you take. First you use the Auto Contrast controls and the Blacks, Mids, and Whites sliders to maximize the contrast of your image and use the Histogram as a monitoring device to see exactly what you are doing. Using an external video monitor is a must as well to accurately see results.

  • Blacks Auto-Balance Color button (the eyedropper) Clicking the Blacks Auto-Balance Color button turns the pointer into an eyedropper when it's moved into the video in the Viewer or the Canvas. Click the tip of the eyedropper into what is supposed to be the blackest area of your image. The color value of the pixel you select is analyzed , and the Blacks balance control is automatically adjusted to turn that pixel into true black. This affects all the black areas of your picture.

  • Blacks Reset button Clicking this button resets the Blacks balance control to its default settings. Holding down the Shift key while clicking this button resets the Blacks, Mids, Whites, and Saturation controls to their default settings.


    The areas of your picture affected by the Mids balance control overlap the areas affected by the Blacks and the Whites balance controls, so adjustments to the Mids affect adjustments you might have already made to the Blacks and Whites. Usually it's best to tread softly. Also, the Blacks control overlaps the Whites, and the Whites control overlaps the Blacks control. I find it easy to adjust the Mids first and then the Blacks and/or Whites. Also keep in mind that you can add multiple instances of a color-correction filter and use limiting controls on each of them to achieve the look you are after.

  • Mids balance control Click and drag in the Mids balance control to move the balance control indicator and change the mix of red, green, and blue in the mids of your clip.

  • Mids Select Auto-Balance Color button (the eyedropper) Clicking this button turns the pointer into an eyedropper when it's moved into the video in the Viewer or the Canvas. Click the tip of the eyedropper into what is supposed to be an area of neutral gray. The mid area of luma is shifted into the correct balance.

  • Mids Reset button Click this button to reset the Mids balance control to its default settings and restore your clip to the original color balance.

  • Whites balance control Click and drag in the Whites balance control to move the balance control indicator and change the mix of red, green, and blue in the whites of your clip.

Figure 11.35. The remaining controls in the Color Corrector 3-way filter.


Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4
Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4
ISBN: 735712816
Year: 2005
Pages: 189 © 2008-2017.
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